Home DNA testing has become a phenomenon in the past couple years as more and more people are deciding to use the wonders of modern technology to try and answer that eternal question - who am I?
DNA includes the unique genetic code that determines who we are as individuals. A DNA sample can be provided very easily, by spitting in a small tube or even by simply wiping a cotton swab on the inside of your cheek for 30 seconds. Once you’ve taken your sample, mail it in a secure envelope to the testing company, and just wait for the results.
But what do you do when the DNA test is for your newborn or the baby that’s still in your womb? Let’s take it one by one.
What Are Prenatal and Baby DNA Tests?
Prenatal DNA tests are a way of establishing paternity before the baby is born. In the past, the only options were to wait until after a baby was born or through an invasive test during pregnancy which could potentially harm the fetus. Today it requires only a simple blood test from the mother and a DNA test from the father in order to get definitive results.
Can I Take a DNA Test When Pregnant?
Yes, and the options are far safer and easier than they were in the past. Companies draw blood from the mother and then extract a DNA profile of the baby from the fetal cells in the mother's blood stream. If you can't get the father to submit a sample, one from his parents can also be used to establish lineage.
Prenatal blood tests can be performed as early as 8 weeks into the pregnancy.
DNA tests performed on a newborn baby don’t require a blood test. The sample can be obtained through saliva taken by swabbing the newborn’s cheek. In addition to paternity, these tests can search for any indications of genetic diseases that could be a problem down the road.
Prenatal and newborn baby DNA tests are a popular aspect of the DNA test industry, and collecting samples and sending and receiving results are easier than ever through a number of top providers.
How Accurate Are Prenatal and Baby DNA Test Kits?
According to the DNA Diagnostics Center, if a man is the biological father, then paternity can be established with over 99% accuracy. The DDC states that these tests are so accurate that accredited paternity tests can be admissible in a court of law.
Non-invasive prenatal testing of the mother’s bloodstream is 99.9% accurate, according to the American Pregnancy Association, and can be performed any time after the eighth week of pregnancy.
Organizations like the APA recommend that women opt for non-invasive testing during pregnancy or waiting until after birth to establish paternity, in order to avoid any complications that could hurt the mother or fetus.
While most companies offer simple tests that can satisfy your curiosity about paternity, if you want one that is admissible in court it typically requires an extra cost.
How Much Do Prenatal and Newborn Baby DNA Tests Cost?
Invasive prenatal testing, either using amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, tend to be significantly more expensive than non-invasive methods, costing hundreds of dollars or even over a thousand dollars in processing and collection fees. This is in addition to the cost of the test itself.
Prenatal testing of the mother’s DNA is much less expensive, but it remains pricey, hovering around $1200 and even more.
Here’s a look at 3 DNA testing companies that perform prenatal paternity testing:
How Soon Can You DNA Test a Baby After Birth?
Postnatal DNA testing can be carried out as soon as the baby is born. It entails collecting a DNA sample from the umbilical cord of the baby at or after delivery. The cord blood sample is then taken and compared with that of the father. A cheek swab, hair, or blood sample can also be used.
These tests are then taken and sent back to the company along with a sample taken from the father or the father’s parents. These tests are significantly cheaper than prenatal DNA tests, but if you want them to be admissible in court you’ll need to pay more.
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DNA testing industry leader MyHeritage doesn’t offer direct paternity tests, but you can still use it to get a definitive answer. After you send in a test for DNA analysis, the company can tell you if it matches another test sent to the company, with that user’s consent. By paying for 2 tests at $59-79 each plus shipping this can slightly be more expensive than other options, but it’s still an effective way to get some of the answers you’re looking for
Why Do a DNA Test on My Baby?
Now that you’re familiar with how DNA tests are carried out on fetuses and newborns, it’s time for you to decide if you want to go down this path and why. Proving paternity can be an essential step in establishing legal custodianship of a child and a crucial way for you to ensure that the biological father helps in the raising of the baby.
Questions about paternity can cast a dark cloud over a pregnancy and can linger over the young life of a baby long after birth. This is one of the most physically and emotionally difficult experiences that women endure, and having the answers you need can make things easier.
That said, a paternity test can also potentially lead to heartache and trauma. If a loving father and caring partner learns he is not the biological father, it can be devastating, no matter how important the test is.
Despite the emotional consequences that occur in some cases, performing a DNA paternity test on a fetus or a newborn is easier and more affordable than ever. Once you decide what type of test you’d like to take, shop around and find the DNA testing company that will provide you with the cost and customer service that are best for you and then go get those answers you’re looking for.